How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About It)

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About it)

A few years ago I started taking the bus to work, about 45 minutes each way, and I quickly realized how much time I had on my hands. There is only so much you can scroll through on your phone before you get bored! I decided to use my commute as the perfect opportunity to take up reading again and I haven't looked back.  

In the last three years I've read about 45 novels, most of them fiction, and I've begun every single one knowing virtually nothing about the story. I never read the back of books anymore and I stop people before they tell me too many details about the novel they're reading. I just love starting a new book not knowing where the story is going to take me.

Now, you might think that by approaching a book this way, I end up reading a lot of duds. But that's not the case at all! In those 45 books, I've only read a handful that were just okay. I've actually read my all-time favourite books knowing nothing about the plot when I started!

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About It)

So, how do I find a great book without reading the synopsis?

A Recommendation
One of the easiest way to find a good book is to get a recommendation from someone you know. I'm lucky to have quite a few family members, friends, and colleagues who are avid readers, and they are my go-to when I'm looking for a new book. I regularly ask them the titles of books they've enjoyed recently and add any raves to my to-read list. 

A Reading Trail
You know how Amazon shows you what other customers purchased when they bought the item you are searching for? Like, if you are looking to buy tea towels, Amazon will suggest pot holders or a dish brush because other customers bought those items along with their tea towels. 

Books on Amazon are displayed the same way and they are also star rated from customer reviews. To find a book using the reading trail, I'll search on Amazon for a book I have already read and enjoyed, and look at what suggested titles come up (the books other customers purchased in addition to the book I'm searching). For example, if I search for The Light Between Oceans, a book I read a couple years ago, two of the titles that come up as purchased along side it are, All The Light We Cannot See and The Piano Maker.  When a suggested title is rated more than four stars with many reviews (as these both are), I add the names to my to-read list.

An Author's Collection
Almost every fall, Nicholas Sparks releases a new fiction novel. His books are love stories that are easy to read, and I personally enjoy them so much because I feel like I'm watching a movie when I'm reading them (which is probably why almost every book has been adapted to the big screen). When you like an author's style of writing, there is an excellent chance you will enjoy all of their books. I get a little excited when I read a good book by an author who has published several other novels because those authors then become my fall-backs when I'm at a loss for what to read next.  

Some authors I've read multiple books by are Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty, and Kristin Hannah. I will note, when you start reading book after book by the same author, you do start to notice patterns in their writing so it's nice to break it up with books from other authors if you can.

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About It)

Below are three of my favourite books, all of which I read not knowing what I was getting into. Without giving you details on the actual plot of these novels, you'll see how I came about reading them, and I challenge you to choose your next book knowing nothing about it! 

The Kitchen House
The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom, was the first book I picked up when I started reading again and I was hooked by page two. I found this book through the reading trail; I actually saw it on Pinterest first and then when I searched it on Amazon, it had a high star rating and was paired with The Help. I hadn't actually read The Help yet but I had enjoyed the movie, so I took a chance. And I'm so glad! The Kitchen House was the book that made me fall in love with reading again.

A sequel was released last year, Glory Over Everything. I haven't have a chance to read this new one yet because I really want to re-read the The Kitchen House first.

The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, had been on my radar for a while, but it wasn't until a coworker had suggested it to me, commenting that it was "such a fun book to read", that I bumped it to the top of my list. And she wasn't lying. When I wasn't laughing, I was smiling as I read this book; I enjoyed it so, so much. I pretty much told anyone I could how great this novel is and I still do. If you haven't read it yet, please do!

The Rosie Project also has a sequel, The Rosie Effect, which is just as enjoyable because it's the continuation of such a great story. 

The Nightingale
I decided to read The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah, because I saw it everywhere! This book was front and centre at book stores, I saw it in the drugstores, and Safeway too. I picked up a copy because I couldn't seem to walk by a store without seeing the cover, and I was not disappointed. The Nightingale is probably my favourite book of all time. The narrative is captivating, powerful, and emotional, and I couldn't put this one down. I read it about a year ago and I'm really looking forward to reading it again soon. 

Blushed Tips:

  • I like to use the Goodreads app to keep track of the books I've read and the books I want to read. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to start reading a book, only to realize partway in that you've already read it before, especially if you read a lot by the same author!
  • I like to start a new book within a couple days of finishing my last one to help keep the reading momentum going.
  • If I'm really stuck on what to read next, I'll look for a book that has been adapted into a movie. It must be pretty good if they are putting it to film!

A few other books I've enjoyed are Big Little Lies (I really want to see the show!), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryOrphan Train, and Still Alice. The books I'm most looking forward to reading next are A Man Called Ove and Truly Madly Guilty

What are some of your favourite books? I'd love to add some more titles to my to-read list!